Clunes Book Festival – The Market Reduction Approach (aka how to stop things getting nicked at a market!)

Last weekend the travelling criminologist went to Clunes! Clunes is an old gold rush town located about 30 minutes from Ballarat. It’s reportedly the first gold rush area in Victoria, Australia. Each year, Clunes turns it main strip into a book festival, where the whole town is covered in books. My type of festival 🙂

What I want to talk about today is how to set up a market or a festival which sells goods, in a way that maximises profits and minimises theft. It’s called the Market Reduction Approach. The Market Reduction Approach involves reducing opportunity – both for theft and then the resale of the items. I’ll be focussing on the theft part today (with pictures). The Clunes Booktown – started in 2007. It now attracts over 70 traders per year, and has crowds of up to 20,000. Lots of potential for theft and crowding. How do you stop theft or other crowd related activity (i.e. pickpocketing, especially wallets and mobile phones)? One of the answers is spacing. Make sure you give people room to look at items freely, without having to stand close to someone. Shop theft largely occurs due to opportunity – i.e. lack of surveillance (either a shop keeper or CCTV, usually both), an item that’s easy to pickpocket, and a split-second decision to take the item. Clues Booktown did this really well. Wide lanes removed the opportunity for pickpockets, and enabled people to look at the books  and maximise the opportunity for sales. If it’s easy to move around in and look at items, people are likely to buy them.

Check out the width!
Check out the width!

Lots of natural survelliance due to staffing. there were identifiable staff almost at every point required – definitely not their first rodeo! They’ve had 9 years for the festival to grow and get things right. In this area (need to get better at photographing, hah), I counted  no less than 6 staff in that section. Staff were also very easy to identify – they all wore red aprons.

Start of children's section - local school playing in the rotunda, and food area
Start of children’s section – local school playing in the rotunda, and food area

Clever stall set up – there was lots of spacing, with designated book selling areas, food selling areas and then also a separate section for the kids – with a straw maze. This might sounds quite simple, but it meant that parents could supervise easily, kids could be occupied, things couldn’t be broken, no ability to get hurt, no way you couldn’t see them. The only downside was the possibility of allergies and hay fever. There were also exits near the kids area, so you didn’t have to backtrack back through the festival to exit if you were a family and needed to leave.

Straw Maze! – spot the 4 staff members

Extra toilets to avoid issues, and people trashing cafes in the towns bathroom. This also prevents congestion in places, making it less easy for pickpockets.

Extra portable toliets
Extra portable toilets

There was also a great example of how to prevent people from going down a laneway that was off limits – this large picture was used. As there were lots of staff on, it would be very obvious if someone began to move the picture, or jump over it to get down the laneway.

Picture covering laneway

Staffing. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times this post, but people power is not to be underestimated! Having lots of staff meant that there was lots of natural surveillance, making sure the crowd flowed, there were people to ask for help, and lots of people to assist should anything go wrong.

Clues book festival
Clunes book festival

For more info on the Market Reduction Approach – here is the paper I had to read at Uni! A merry google will also direct you to further papers, a wiki entry and Home Office information.

Click to access hors178.pdf

Emma x P.S. The festival ran really well – however it would be interesting to see the town when not in action for the book festival. I would wonder how the town operates when events aren’t on now that the goldrush is over – a lot of stores appeared to only be used for the festival. Follow up blog post required!

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